Our 2019 Faves

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in Features • Illustrated by Marguerita Cruz-Urbanc

As we approach the end of 2019, we always like to spend some time thinking about all the things we read, watched, listened to, accomplished. The following are just a handful of joys we came across this year. While other outlets keep to only evaluating media or events that emerged within the year, we open it up to all the things we discovered in 2019.

Barbara’s Top Three

Co-op-ing

This year, I got the opportunity and honor to co-op at The Smart Set with such a lovely and dynamic crew. It was truly an uplifting experience!!! (Editor’s note: we did not slip Barb a 20 for this list).

Stranger Things

The third season of Stranger Things was one of a few series I intensely anticipated this year and it delivered! It was such a thrilling and exciting time to watch and made my time between schoolwork more exciting.

Fire Emblem

Sylvain from Fire Emblem healed my soul

Marguerita’s Top Three

Rosalía

Rosalía’s music is both meaningful and captivating. She’s won several awards in her home country of Spain and in the US for her choreography, music, collaborations, and music videos. While her lyrics are a poetry I can barely understand, the emotions and feelings are clearly conveyed in her voice, a voice that has such an extensive vocal range that it’s hard to mimic. She combines modern pop music (mostly Latin pop) with old and traditional Spanish and Arabic influences, not only in the music she makes but the outfits she wears in her videos which makes her such a unique artist.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

On the day that I went to see Spider-Man: Far From Home, I was feeling considerably sick while being on my study abroad term in London. The idea of sitting for two and a half hours in a theater honestly made me feel even sicker and I thought I was going to have a lousy time, but all that changed when the movie started. All of a sudden, I was immersed in this world that I loved since I was a kid, getting to experience a superhero that remains e my favorite since that age. The acting, the special effects, and the twisting plot points kept me rooted in my seat the whole time without another thought. Even though this version of Spiderman is heavily rooted in the storyline of the Avengers, these movies are still able to focus on Peter and his development as a character and a superhero. The nearly three-hour film flew by and I truly enjoyed every moment of it to the point where I forgot I was sick.

Webtoon Comics

This app has an abundant number of comics created by any artist and illustrator who wants to create and make themselves known, and it has taken over the reading portion of my life. I get easily sucked into these miniature worlds with fictional characters that I grow easily attached to. I can’t seem to put my phone down until I’m done with their story and even still it fills my head. Some of my favorites have been: Lore Olympus, about the goddess Persephone and the adapted romance between her and the god of the underworld, Hades; Yumi’s Cells, which follows a young woman in her early 30s falling in and out of love and her experience navigating her life as a freelance writer; and Castle Swimmer about a young shark prince who has to go against a prophecy he’s been trained since young to fulfill and the love he finds with the one other person whom the prophecy pertains to. Being able to see the beautiful artwork and character development is a real treat and a nice break from the day.

Melinda’s Top Three

Lana Del Rey’s Norman F*****g Rockwell

We’ve hit a point where the musical influences of my youth are creeping into the contemporary. I came to terms that my taste’s sweet spot was formed sometime between 1994 and 1999. I was at the gym recently and overheard Live’s “I, Alone” and even though I wasn’t a super fan at 9, it’s familiarity and comfort provided nice punctuation to the morning. Lana Del Rey’s album reminded me of all the singer-songwriters I loved watching VH1 in the ’90s. There are hints of Natalie Merchant, nods toward Fiona Apple, and hints of Jewel on top of the allusions she continually makes to 1960s girl groups and hip hop. Her willingness to write and sing songs that place her anger and vulnerability at the forefront taps into my emotional reserves.

Anne Boyer’s The Undying

For a hot minute, I was recommending Boyer’s Garments Against Women, her 2015 book of lyrical poetry. I was struck by the delicacy of her language and syntax, the directness of her capitalist critique, and the emotional and physical vulnerabilities within and in-between the lines. Her book The Undying, about her relationship to her body and the medical-industrial complex while battling cancer continues to demonstrate her craftsmanship while also illustrating all the broken systems that make having a human body unbearable.

Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House

This book. While reading, my body became its own Hitchcockian nightmare. Machado’s passages struck me like papercuts. Each toxic moment reminded me of the ease in which I have dismissed small acts of cruelty. Machado’s brilliance comes in narrating perversions of banality and the intensity of triggered violence. What happens when a home becomes a hellscape? When those familiar to us become strangers? And what happens when violence is overlooked? When pain enacted onto others is traumatic, but not illegal. Machado opens up as many wounds as she stitches together. •